So I took a very cold run this morning through Little Italy. You know, those mornings when the sun’s at a degree higher than mercury? Chapstick and mittens day….And while I only saw five people (and one dog) on the run, I ran through a very alive and resilient community – Little Italy.
You can’t write about Little Italy without writing about where to eat and where to buy good food. Little Italy is filled with many gems almost all of them on the famous Taylor Street.
While these gems have a deep rooted history in Little Italy the geography of the neighborhood has changed quite a bit. As my Uncle Tony said, the “cross-town highway that ‘kilt’ the old neighborhood.” And it did indeed cut the neighborhood in two, significantly isolating the western half. Why? Well, it was due to the fact that “hiz honor” adamantly pushed for construction of both the highway and UIC (University of Illinois at Chicago). If you want to be a real Chicagoan call UIC “Circle Campus.”
A lovely little island of taste and smells on the western end is Ferrara Bakery - a 100+ year old institution. YUM. Look for Nella behind the counter and ask for a tall espresso and a fresh filled canolli. Now that’s a Little Italy breakfast for ya.
After your coffee make sure to visit the Catholic churches of Our Lady of Pompeii and Holy Guardian Angel. For lunch, walk down to Pompeii Bakery and try the strudel. No, it’s not like a danish. It’s kind of like a calabrese, which is kind of like a turnover… ah, never mind.
Or take a stroll over to Mario’s Italian Ice. Here, I heard, stands at a location where a certain crowd used to buy bathtub gin back in the day. I also heard the shop sold shots right out the front of the two-flat. After the repeal of prohibition they went main stream and started selling truly the world’s best Italian Ice. Yeah, I don’t know if that story is true.
If you want to see how to eat a “sangwich” check out the stance taken by the patrons at Al’s #1 Beef on Taylor (the real one and only). Oder your Italian Beef sangwich either sweet, hot, wet, or all three. Not to be too cryptic this would be your choice of sweet peppers, hot giardiniera, and/or bread dipped in “the juice.” I’m a sweet hot myself. So called. Booths? Tables? Ha. How about a nice counter to lean on? The “Chicago stance,” according to “Man v. Food,” is how this meal is to be consumed. The stance is similar to how you would stand as if you’re leaning forward trying to take a picture of something that’s very far away. Hands right up to your face, feet slightly past shoulder length, leaning a bit forward.
You know, I’ve been to my homeland of Italy many times, and never seen “Italian Ice” or “Italian Beef” marketed. Hmm… then again, I never order “an Americano” in the states.
Finally, if you have a business partner or lady friend you’d like to impress you cannot go wrong at RoSal’s. It’s not my favorite restaurant JUST because they have a photo of the D’Ambrogio family in 1925 (Giovanni, Lena, Eddie, Marie and Tony – he’s the baby in the dress). No, RoSal’s has some the best food and service ever. You can order what you want whether it’s on the menu or not. Just talk about it with your server. Want shells instead of linguine? Just ask. Want the chicken scallopini but made with veal and with the tomato basil sauce? Just let ‘em know. Or ask for their advice. I also believe their bread is from DiMato’s, a very good bakery…
What was your first impression of Chicago? The iconic skyline? The patchwork of neighborhoods? These four Chicagoian’s share their thoughts about the second city’s impact. Please feel free to share you thoughts and stories below!
The Business Development Department would like to wish a very happy 98th birthday to Mr. John Baird. Mr. Baird is a great historical figure in Chicago for both his work expanding Baird & Warner into one of the largest residential sales firms in the country as well as his pioneer work with urban redevelopment and historic preservation. If you have a minute, click here to sign the e-card to send your best wishes.
Hey, Tom Sawyer is back. It’s been a lot of fun letting friends and colleagues paint the relo fence for me, but I’m committed this year to getting back into the swing of things. So I’m starting (among other things) a new series on Chicago neighborhoods, called – My Kind of Town (no, that’s taken)… Chicago Neighborhoods (descriptive, yes, but lacking)…… Wild Chi… – No, that was that show on Channel 11. Anyway, I’ll call it “Cool Chicago” or something like that. I’ll let you know.
I’ll get to the hinterlands eventually but I’m going to start by writing about where I run. Those who know me know I run, mostly because I love pizza. Pizza and wine. Love pizza and wine. Especially Aurelio’s pizza (their wine, not as much). Anyway, my love of this combination forces me to run to keep at my high school football weight. And when I do run, it’s usually quiet, early in the morning, and I go by so many cool cool cool things that I always think “wow I should write about this.” So I will.
And as an added attraction, soon enough you’ll get to meet some of the folks who I take improv class with at Chicago’s Second City. What is that? 50 years of funny? Aykroyd, Belushi, Radner, Farley, Fey? Ever see Blues Brothers? Well you’ll have to wait (for the explanation of what 2nd city is, why Chicago is the second city, all that, you’ll have to wait). But….with the magic potion of Aurelio’s and wine I will coax them into performing some “Chicago style improv” in, around, and about some of the famous (and not so famous) landmarks and sites in the city of the stinking onion, aka Chicago. That’s the school of “yes, and.” But we’ll get into that later. Yes. And….
Yes! And I never leave Tom Sawyer far behind – If you’d like to chime in with some comments on a Chicago neighborhood, bring it on!
CNN recently posted an article about a mail order home written by Les Christie. Below are some of our comments on the project.
Disasters are an unfortunate and inevitable part of the world we reside in. Despite our best efforts, they happen. Often, we cannot control them. What we can control however is how we respond to them. After all, life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. Disasters are no exception.
A vital part of disaster relief is temporary housing for those affected. After Hurricane Katrina, thousands of people were moved to the New Orleans superdome to take shelter and to have a place to stay. CNN recently posted an online article featuring a new disaster relief home, called House Arc; a 150 square feet structure of steel tubes weighing around 3,000 pounds. It is capable of sustaining high winds, and can be boxed into a 120 cubic foot freight container.
While House Arc is a good idea in theory, I don’t believe it is the solution to housing that disaster relief is so in need for. While there are innovative qualities to it, the flaws outweigh its use. The first problem is the cost of House Arc. One of these modular homes costs between 55 and 75 thousand dollars (although it should be noted that estimated costs are predicted to decrease with mass production). The next setback is that one House Arc needs to be assembled by 3 to 4 carpenters, taking about 3 to 4 days with an estimated build cost of around 5 thousand dollars. In a disaster situation, it is difficult to come across 3 to 4 spare carpenters and days to assemble just one modular house. Finally, this doesn’t offer a solution for a family that finds itself in a disaster situation. While it might be spacious for one person, any family that is forced to live in a House Arc will simply not have enough space.
While a good idea, the House Arc is not the solution to such a colossal problem like temporary housing for disaster relief. It is simply too expensive, too complicated, and too small to provide any real sort of relief. Hopefully someday, there will be a universal solution to the problem of disaster relief housing.
Joel Kotkin of Forbes wrote a great article about cities and salaries. Below are some of our comments and excerpts.
When relocating for a new job to a place you have never been before, there are many things to consider. While not always the most important, salary is certainly one of them. A job in a new city can be particularly enticing if it is accompanied with a high pay check. However, this is only one side of the financial story. The other half is cost of living in your new home town. As the cost of living increases, it is most likely your salary will increase as well, leaving you at times in the same financial position that you started in. Some companies even decrease salaries when relocating if cost of living is significantly lower.
Relocating to a place such as New York or Los Angeles with a new big pay check has its appeals, but with both ranking in the top of cost of living in America, it’s no wonder the salary is higher. That being said, Forbes has listed the cities where a paycheck stretches the furthest.
Number one on Forbes list is Houston Texas, followed by San Jose California, Detroit Michigan, Memphis Tennessee, and Dallas Texas.
If you do find yourself in a position to relocate for a new job, make sure you factor what your new residence will cost you when you get there. If you’re relocating to Chicago, check out Baird & Warner’s relocation page, loaded with great features such as lifestyle search, to assist you find the home you’re looking for. Real Estate is more than just the home you live in, it’s the life you get out of it.
As Beatle George Harrison sang on Revolver, there is no escaping the Taxman’s ever vigilant gaze. Just ask Richard Parrillo whose 2012 property tax was the highest in all of Chicago’s nine counties. At $246,780 his property taxes were higher than the median home sale price of July 2012.
Most of the top properties reached their title thanks to construction or renovations. Karen Citow, owner and founder of Reach Yoga, built a new 11,894-square-foot home in Glencoe causing her property taxes to triple between 2010 and 2011. The new home placed her in with the other top ten.
While most people gawk at such prices the number probably didn’t come as a great surprise to the homeowners or at least should not have been out of the blue. Baird & Warner’s Katherine Malkin told Crain’s, “None of them have made money because they’re ignorant to what costs are.”
Eight of the ten on the list appealed their taxes due to their astronomical prices. Only two were successful in lowering the price – the rest were not so lucky.
Fun Fact: John Lennon wanted to be suspended upside down from the ceiling while he was spun around a microphone to sing the track on Tomorrow Never Knows. George Martin quickly showed him that the same effect could be created without the acrobatics.
Here are some comments from Baird & Warner’s own Tom Gill.
Mary Ellen Podmolik wrote an interesting article last June for the the Chicago Tribune: titled The Wal-Mart effect on home values. Below are pieces of the article along with our comments.
Feelings on the retail juggernaut Wal-Mart are highly controversial and extremely mixed from person to person. Some people love the low prices and location convenience often associated with the store. Others strongly oppose the negative effect that it has on local business, as well as the decline that comes with wages. There are several Wal-Marts in the Chicago area, including one near the West Loop Gate, only a few blocks from Baird & Warner’s corporate office.
However the effect a Wal-Mart has on a housing market surrounding it is not something that brings forth a clear answer. Maybe people dislike having one around because the increased traffic and noise, yet maybe people would prefer one nearby because the prices and ease of doing their shopping. University professors and brothers Devin and Jaren Pope decided to find out.
Their research of over 1 million home sales between 1998 and 2008 showed that homes within a half mile of a Wal-Mart increased between 2 and 3 percent, while homes up to a mile away from a Wal-Mart increased around 1 percent. In dollars this translated to about $7,000 and $4,000 respectively.
The results that were uncovered were not very surprising. It was a minor shift one way, and one which I personally would have guessed. With the downturned economic situation, it makes sense that more people would put a small value on lower priced goods that were so close nearby.
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